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Grey Highlands approves new firearms discharge bylaw

The updated firearms discharge bylaw has been in the works for six years
2020_08_19 Grey Highlands highway sign_JG

The Municipality of Grey Highlands has a new firearms discharge bylaw, but it didn't happen at bullet speed.

The firearms discharge bylaw has been an ongoing project in Grey Highlands for several years. Work on updating the bylaw began in 2017 and involved public consultations and research by municipal staff.

“There has been a lot of discussion over a lot of years on this,” commented Coun. Paul Allen.

At its meeting on March 15, Grey Highlands council approved the municipality’s new firearms bylaw in a 5-1 vote. Coun. Joel Loughead was opposed, while Coun. Nadia Dubyk was not in the council chambers at the time of the vote.

Council made one amendment to the proposed bylaw removing an exemption for bird hunting on Wilcox Lake, Brewster’s Lake and Irish Lake.

The bylaw regulates the discharge of firearms in all areas of the municipality. Discharging a firearm is prohibited in the built-up areas of Grey Highlands that are named in the bylaw. There is an exemption for properties larger than one acre, with owner permission and where the discharge does not travel across the property line. The bylaw also provides exemptions for police and other peace officers, farmers protecting livestock as well as legally permitted hunting activities in the right season. The full bylaw can be found here.

During the discussion about the bylaw, Mayor Paul McQueen raised concerns about allowing bird hunting on Wilcox Lake, Brewster’s Lake and Irish Lake.

“There might be a bit of an issue,” said McQueen. “There may be calls to council.”

Clerk Raylene Martell said the exemption for bird hunting on the three lakes was a recommendation made by council in Sept. 2022 after the municipality held a public information centre for local residents to provide feedback on the bylaw.

McQueen’s concerns were shared by his colleagues.

“I don’t know how anybody could actually safely hunt on Brewster’s Lake. It’s a small lake surrounded by cottages,” said Coun. Dan Wickens.

After discussion about the issue, McQueen moved an amendment that the bird hunting exemption for the three lakes be removed from the bylaw.

“They’re small lakes. How can you control the shot not hitting the shore? That’s my concern,” he said.

The amendment was adopted by council in a 6-1 vote with Coun. Tom Allwood opposed.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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